Local business and consumer news. Openings, closings, deals, sales, what to buy and where to buy it, we round it all up and give you an insider's shopper's special on small business in Halifax. Contact shoptalk@thecoast.ca to send a tip.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Obsolete no longer

Agricola's favourite record retailer weathers the gentrifying strip's ups and downs

Posted By on Thu, Mar 12, 2020 at 9:51 AM

screen_shot_2018-09-05_at_8.54.58_am.png

After ten years on Agricola Street, Obsolete Records was booted from its ramshackle storefront last fall in the most anticlimactic way possible. “Someone was parking out back, and drove into some support beam,” says Obsolete owner Ian Fraser. “And the building’s owner decided to just tear it all down.” 

The news wasn’t a total surprise: plans were already afoot to build a five-storey apartment building on the site. The parking mishap was just the nail in the coffin. But though Obsolete has become a North End mainstay—with a selection skewing heavily to Fraser’s own tastes in indie rock, underground hip-hop, and other relatively niche genres and artists—the redevelopment nearly spelled its end. 

“I was in the same space for very close to a decade,” says Fraser, “and they never raised my rent. When I actually had to start looking, it was a shock to see how rent had gone up all around the neighbourhood.”

The relocation may have been a blessing in disguise, however. Brighter, cleaner and wheelchair-accessible, the new space, at 2855 Agricola Street, is also the first to be occupied in a new block of storefronts that aims to draw Agricola foot traffic farther north. And, says Fraser, “it feels like a real store, not an afterthought kind of space.”

Obsolete occupied the first of a two-phase development, and Fraser says a cafe is planned to open beside his story in the spring or summer. “It looks like this is going to turn into a great little niche area,” says Fraser, “a new little hub of commerce.”

  • Pin It
    Favourite

Tags: , , , ,

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

The royal flush

For only $450 you can crap like a king/queen.

Posted By on Wed, Mar 11, 2020 at 2:34 PM

shop.png

If you've recently been on Halifax Kijiji you may have seen this odd listing: "Gold imported toilets 4 left!!!"

The popular ad, which was recently removed from the website, displayed a white-and-gold, floral-patterned throne—a far cry from the stark white pots us lowly peasants are wont to piss in.

Each toilet, according to the seller, is valued at $1,200 regular price, comes with "wax ring, flush," is in an unopened box and is "extremely rare." But, a Google search for "gold toilets" reveals these lustrous loos may not be as "rare"—or expensive—as the ad suggested.

On Alibaba.com, identical fancy flushers can be yours for $85 to $220 USD ($113-$294 CAD), a fraction of the Kijiji asking price. According to the website, the dual-flushing toilets are manufactured in China by Foshan Haiyijia Co., Ltd. and are only gold-painted ceramic—not real gold. If you were excited about giving your butt a real gold crown, think again.

Gazing at the toilet (pictured, right) long enough, you might think, wait, I've seen these before. That's because identical toilets are installed at Garden Food Bar & Lounge on Clyde Street downtown. It's there that you can try the full, luxury experience—sort of. The shiny, gold seats are actually made of hard, gold-coloured plastic. And like most public washrooms, they're in need of a clean.

If you're looking for a real, solid-gold toilet, you're shit out of luck. Actual gold toilets are reserved for the elite. Consider "America," an 18-karat, fully-functioning, solid-gold toilet installation by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan, which was stolen last year from Britain's Blenheim Palace (Winston Churchill's birthplace).

Sadly, many of us can't live like Churchill—or anywhere in HRM for that matter (see: one percent rental-vacancy rate). But if you want to spice up your drab bathroom, or you want to give yourself a false sense of wealth and importance, these faux-gold toilets may be the answer.

  • Pin It
    Favourite

Thursday, March 5, 2020

How to win at auctions, both online and irl

No bids, no glory: Five shopping tips to make the most of your auction experience.

Posted By on Thu, Mar 5, 2020 at 1:00 AM

There’s a lot to see at an auction, like the one above at the Halifax Forum, so Melanie Mather of Lo + Behold says it’s important to stay focused. - IAN SELIG
  • There’s a lot to see at an auction, like the one above at the Halifax Forum, so Melanie Mather of Lo + Behold says it’s important to stay focused.
  • IAN SELIG

Nova Scotia may not attract attention from high-end auction houses like Christie’s and Sotheby’s, but local firm Crowther & Brayley runs good auctions in hockey arenas (the next is March 21). And the world of online auctions is accessible from your phone. But just because any amateur can make a bid, doesn’t mean there aren’t lessons to learn.

Melanie and Bob Mather run Lo + Behold, an online auction house and vintage shop near Peggys Cove that specializes in selling retro-chic collectors items, vintage toys, signs and other rare and unique odds and ends. Here are Melanie’s tips for making the best bid, both online and irl.

You'll be floored by some of the bargains on rugs avaialble at auction—just don't go over your spending ceiling. - IAN SELIG
  • You'll be floored by some of the bargains on rugs avaialble at auction—just don't go over your spending ceiling.
  • IAN SELIG

Cap your spending limit

It's easy to get sucked in at an auction when the frantic bidding wars begin—and rest assured, the price will always go up, never down. Treat it like gambling, and know when to fold 'em. "Definitely set the number, write it down," says Mather. "Then you can go back and say, 'here's my list, here is my agenda of how I'm going to bid on this.'"


Know the costs

Search functionality differs between online and offline auctions. - IAN SELIG
  • Search functionality differs between online and offline auctions.
  • IAN SELIG

"Not everybody realizes there are two fees typically involved," says Mather. She insists online bidders should do their research and factor in provincial tax. There is also a "buyer's premium" charge that will cover administrative and packaging costs. While Lo + Behold charges 15 percent, it can vary with other auctioneers. "Make sure you know what the fine print is, and make sure you're aware how the process works."


Ask questions

At live auctions, potential buyers can physically inspect items, but there are opportunities to obtain important information online as well. "A lot of auction houses have multiple channels of contact," says Mather, who often answers questions from would-be bidders through social media. "Be sure to look at descriptions and measurements."


Timing is everything

Patience can pay off in "unbelievable deals" according to online auctioneer Melanie Mather. - IAN SELIG
  • Patience can pay off in "unbelievable deals" according to online auctioneer Melanie Mather.
  • IAN SELIG

Sure, patience is a virtue. But it can also nab you a hell of a bargain at auctions! "Usually if you stick it out to the end, you'll get unbelievable deals," insists Mather. "Because you're the only one there bidding, you can get entire tables of stuff for a buck."


No regrets

After you do make that bid, don't fret about whether you have overpaid for an item. Relax. Enjoy the experience and your new acquisition. "I truly believe the market tells you exactly what the value is," says Mather. "It's a tricky dance, [but] whatever an item sells for is what it's worth."

  • Pin It
    Favourite

Tags: , , , , , ,

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Coming clean about cosmetics with Toxic Beauty

How to detox your morning routine from the chemical-laden products you use daily.

Posted By on Thu, Feb 27, 2020 at 1:00 AM

shop.png

Filmmaker Phyllis Ellis hopes to send you scrambling to the shower to search out labels on your soap and shampoo. After all, her eye-opening documentary Toxic Beauty (trailer below; streaming now on CBC Gem) not only follows the class-action suit against Johnson & Johnson—and the company's cancer-linked baby powder—but Ellis also uncovers an unregulated amalgam of alarming toxicity in many over-the-counter personal-care products.

"I don't think the onus should be on the consumer to decipher a label with a word that has 750 letters," says the filmmaker. "I do think, keep it simple."

Here, we round up some of the worst offenders in your morning routine and drop local, non-toxic alternatives worth considering.

Shampoo

May contain: formaldehyde (DMDM Hydantoin), endocrine disruptors
Linked to: allergies, depression, cancer

"If you look on a label and see the word 'fragrance' or 'parfum,' don't use it," insists Ellis of most shampoos. "Fragrance in a product is proprietary so the company that makes that brand does not have to disclose what's in that word (which) can contain 200 to 1,000 chemicals."

That means the best way to make all days good hair days is to switch to a shampoo bar, like the Daytona Shampoo Bar available through eco-beauty and zero-waste haven The Tare Shop (5539 Cornwallis Street). The Daytona bar is SLS-, paraben- and phthalate-free and gets your 'do clean without stripping it of its natural oils.


Deodorant

May contain: endocrine disruptors, formaldehyde
Linked to: reproductive issues, tumours, hormone disruption

"When we had the film screen in London, [breast cancer researcher] doctor Philippa Darbre told the audience 'I would not let anyone I love use deodorant,'" says Ellis.

Maybe it's time to give your drug store tube a break and go for an aluminum- and phthalate-free option, like Earth Elements Natural Deodorant. The company, a Halifax Seaport Farmers' Market staple, is big into proving clean and green aren't in opposition, with an extensive range of body powder, soaps and home cleaning agents stocked alongside deodorant in scents like lemon grass and French lavender.


Nail polish

May contain: toluene, acetone
Linked to: dermatitis, lung disorders, miscarriage

Toluene "is linked to birth defects and all kinds of problems," says Ellis. "Anything that adheres for an extended period of time can't be awesome."

Water-based polish has long been the secret to a fresh mani amongst the hippie set, but formula improvements mean natural polish has more staying power than you'd think. Score a perfect 10 with options free of ethyl acetate, butyl acetate and acetone, like Acquarella nail polish. Find it at the natural-focused spa Bradshaw Pure Esthetics (1556 Queen Street) which, FYI, is a space that's also stocked with 100 percent organic facial masks and serums made in-house.


Face cream

May contain: endocrine disruptors, mercury, coal tar
Linked to: cognitive dysfunction, tremors, insomnia

"Anything that lightens your skin has mercury," says Ellis. "And a lot of eye products have coal tar."

Make sure you're keeping your complexion safe by opting for a plant-based option, like Osha Mae's carrot cream. Derived from carrot seed and brimming with essential oils, it's a skin softener that'll still help address aging skin concerns thanks to heavyweight ingredients like argan oil and squalene—ingredients that made skincare giant The Ordinary Company go viral. Hit up Osha Mae at the Seaport Market.

  • Pin It
    Favourite

Tags: , , , ,

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Hair love for Halifax

Halifax's natural-haircare community sets the records straight on the art, science and history of braiding

Posted By on Thu, Feb 13, 2020 at 9:45 AM

Nadine Sparks, owner of Unity Hair & Esthetics, will showcase looks at the event. - SUBMITTED
  • Nadine Sparks, owner of Unity Hair & Esthetics, will showcase looks at the event.
  • Submitted

The Braid Couture Art Show
Feb 15, 8 pm
Bus Stop Theatre, 2203 Gottingen Street)
braidcoutureshow.com
$35-$45


From ombré hair to pastel colours, hair trends come and go. But braids, from cornrows to the French variety, have long been a hairstyle staple across cultures.

Tara Lynn Taylor is organizer of the Braid Couture Art Show, happening this Saturday at the Bus Stop Theatre (2203 Gottingen Street) and she wants to broaden everyone’s understanding of braiding and textured haircare. “It’s for us,” she says of the event, “but it’s also for non-Black people, so they can see we have our own versatility, we don’t need to look like them.” 

She hopes the event will shed light on the intricate details of textured hair, such as the importance of understanding porosity and density. “There’s a science to it,” says Taylor. “My products are designed in a way that takes the guesswork out of it.”

Taylor is also the owner of Carmalina Naturals, a Halifax-based company that sells natural-haircare products. Along with P3 Hair and Beauty Supplies, she’ll be selling natural haircare products in the venue lobby.

Stylist and creator of Braids By Tasha, Natasha Stephenson, will be braiding on Saturday night along with with her 12-year-old daughter, Na’siya. Stephenson believes the event will encourage more people to get educated about different types of hair and hairstyles.

Stephenson says she’d like the Cosmetology Association of Nova Scotia to place more emphasis on braiding. “It's not only Black folk that can braid,” she says. “There’s white people, there’s Asian people that may want to learn or already know how to do it. Taylor even points out that white parents of bi-racial children may benefit from better understanding how to care for their kids’ hair.

This show will also showcase local fashion designers, such as clothing by Hilary Taylor Sears, Hologram Designs and purses and bags by Jaziel Ugbebor. There will also be theatrical, musical and dance performances.

  • Pin It
    Favourite

Tool time

The Good Neighbour makes for an easy way to swap tools with friends and neighbours

Posted By on Thu, Feb 13, 2020 at 9:31 AM

SUPPLIED
  • Supplied

The app-based sharing economy has produced no shortage of bizarre and terrible business ideas. Ever hear of Leftover Swap, the short-lived San Francisco startup that aimed to reduce food waste by letting users sell yesterday’s clammy noodles to nearby strangers? Didn’t think so.

But Alberta electrician David Thiessen is out to prove there’s life in the sharing economy yet with The Good Neighbour. With nearly 10,000 users in four western Canadian cities, the tool-sharing app—which allows users to rent tools from nearby users and offer their own on the platform—made its east-coast debut last month. It already has more than 650 users locally, offering everything from reciprocating saws ($10 a day) to cement mixers ($19) to step ladders ($11.29).

According to Thiessen, Halifax is just the right fit: a mid-sized city with a DIY spirit and close-knit neighbourhoods, making for lots of tools in close proximity (so far, most of the users are on or near the Halifax peninsula). Halifax already sports the well-loved Halifax Tool Library (3115 Veith Street), proving that the demand is already there. So if your tool collection consists of little more than a drawer full of old Allen keys, look for The Good Neighbour on Google Play, Apple’s App Store or at its website.

  • Pin It
    Favourite

Hair love for Halifax

Halifax’s braiding and natural-haircare community sets the record straight on the art, science and history of braids

Posted By on Thu, Feb 13, 2020 at 1:00 AM

Nadine Sparks, owner of Unity Hair & Esthetics, will showcase looks at the event. - SUBMITTED
  • Nadine Sparks, owner of Unity Hair & Esthetics, will showcase looks at the event.
  • SUBMITTED

The Braid Couture Art Show
Feb 15, 8pm
Bus Stop Theatre, 2203 Gottingen Street
braidcoutureshow.com
$35-$45


From ombré hair to pastel colours, hair trends come and go. But braids, from cornrows to the French variety, have long been a hairstyle staple across cultures.

Tara Lynn Taylor is organizer of the Braid Couture Art Show, happening this Saturday at the Bus Stop Theatre, and she wants to broaden everyone's understanding of braiding and textured haircare. "It's for us," she says of the event, "but it's also for non-Black people, so they can see we have our own versatility, we don't need to look like them."

She hopes the event will shed light on the intricate details of textured hair, such as the importance of understanding porosity and density. "There's a science to it," says Taylor. "My products are designed in a way that takes the guesswork out of it."

Taylor is also the owner of Carmalina Naturals, a Halifax-based company that sells natural-haircare products. Along with P3 Hair and Beauty Supplies, she'll be selling natural haircare products in the venue lobby.

Hair stylist and creator of Braids By Tasha, Natasha Stephenson, will be braiding on Saturday night along with with her 12-year-old daughter, Na'siya. Stephenson believes the event will encourage people to get educated about different types of hair and hairstyles.

Stephenson says she'd like the Cosmetology Association of Nova Scotia to place more emphasis on braiding. "It's not only Black folk that can braid," she says. "There's white people, there's Asian people that may want to learn or already know how to do it. Taylor even points out that white parents of bi-racial children may benefit from better understanding how to care for their kids' hair.

This show will also showcase local fashion designers, such as clothing by Hilary Taylor Sears, Hologram Designs and purses and bags by Jaziel Ugbebor. There will also be theatrical, musical and dance performances.

  • Pin It
    Favourite

Tags: , , ,

Thursday, February 6, 2020

LOCAL By Local Girl explores what "made here" means

The conceptual, art-fashion project is stylish wherever it calls home.

Posted By on Thu, Feb 6, 2020 at 1:00 AM

LOCAL by Local Girl designer Anita Joh sporting some of her wearable art. - TYLERPENGELLY
  • LOCAL by Local Girl designer Anita Joh sporting some of her wearable art.
  • tylerpengelly

LOCAL By Local Girl
To Feb 8
Anna Leonowens Gallery, 1891 Granville Street

W hat does "local" mean, anyway? NSCAD student Anita Joh's artistic persona (and "conceptual brand") LOCAL by Local Girl is an attempt to dig into that question through a series of pop-ups, installations and social-media engagements. The brand includes everyday functional objects, from wearable art pieces like t-shirts and bags to printed matter and book arts.

An institutional setting is new for Joh, however. That makes her grad exhibit, running until Saturday at the Anna Leonowens Gallery, a new experience: "I'm bringing it to the gallery space, which creates a different context," she says. "Everything else has been me popping up in an urban space that I found myself." (Explaining the streetwear vibes that permeate Joh's work.)

The exhibit involves taking gallery posters and invitations, turning them into art pieces themselves. The result? A deeply instagrammable aesthetic that's slick as lipgloss, with Joh sharing a micro-collection that carries an Off-White energy and features mini handbags that read like an edgier take on trendy French designer Jacquemus' micro-accessory.

It is, alongside being a breakdown on what local connections means, a reminder that high fashion and high art have always been RSVPing yes to the same party.

Originally from Vancouver, Joh has lived in Halifax for four years. She associates home with experience, people, community and connections. "You can be local to many places at once, it is okay to bend and adapt that definition to whatever works for you. We all want a sense of belonging and a home but that doesn't have to be geographical or physical, it can be found emotionally and mentally through people," she says.

  • Pin It
    Favourite

Tags: , ,

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

The skin you're in

Building body positivity through body art

Posted By on Wed, Feb 5, 2020 at 2:33 PM

A few of the designs from Outlaw Country Tattoo's flash-tattoo event in support of Eating Disorders Nova Scotia - EMERSON ROACH
  • A few of the designs from Outlaw Country Tattoo's flash-tattoo event in support of Eating Disorders Nova Scotia
  • Emerson Roach

Outlaw Country Tattoo will join forces with Eating Disorders Nova Scotia (EDNS) to transform Haligonian’s bodies into safe havens during a flash tattoo event this Thursday. From 1pm to 6pm at Outlaw (6103 North Street), artist Emerson Roach will tattoo customers with pre-designed, body-positivity-themed tattoos, ranging from $80-$130. 50 percent of proceeds will go to Eating Disorders Nova Scotia.

The event will be held in support of National Eating Disorder Awareness Week (NEDA), with 50 percent of proceeds going to Eating Disorders Nova Scotia. 

“I think especially for queer and trans folks, tattooing can be a way to feel more at home in the skin that you're in,” says Roach. “Every time you get a new tattoo, it's like you're painting the walls of a house that you were given. You don't get to control what the house looks like, and it might not always feel like home, but every time you get a tattoo it's like you're painting those walls into a new one.”

According to EDNS, almost one in 10 people will experience an eating disorder during their lifetime, according to the U.S. National Eating Disorders Association, 42 percent of men with eating disorders identify as gay. But statistics are still limited on eating disorders among trans and non-binary people, and Roach is hoping to help break through stereotypes through this event.

Thursday’s event has already filled up, but there’s still plenty of flash-tattoo fun to be had—Outlaw will be doing a Valentine’s-themed flash event from noon to 6pm on February 14, first-come, first-served. Lineups are expected, so don’t dawdle.

  • Pin It
    Favourite

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Pinball’s bumper year

From Propeller's Arcade Room to the Pubcade by Silverball Games, Halifax's scene is dino-mite.

Posted By on Thu, Jan 30, 2020 at 1:00 AM

Classic games on classic carpet at the Best Western Chocolate Lake.
  • Classic games on classic carpet at the Best Western Chocolate Lake.

P inball wizards (and would-be wizards) are invited to Propeller Brewing Company's Propeller Arcade Room (2015 Gottingen Street) beginning at 4pm on Friday, January 31, for the arcade's first birthday party, featuring balloons, $5 beers, $10 t-shirts and lots of ball-flipping action.

Since opening last January with a modest collection of pinball and video games both vintage and new, the Arcade Room has blown Propeller up into one of the city's most eclectic pinball destinations, with brewery employee and pinball mastermind Ian Matheson squeezing in new machines "wherever he can find a few more square feet," says Propeller's Evelyn Hornbeck. It's also become a hub for Halifax Pinball League tournaments, and surprisingly raucous crowds of spectators.

Propeller's party caps off not just a big year for its arcade, but for pinball in general in Halifax, which now boasts eight destinations on pinballmap.com, the pinball scene's digital bible. Five belong to Silverball Games, which started four years ago with an arcade at the Best Western Chocolate Lake (250 St. Margarets Bay Road). Last December, Silverball opened the Pubcade, inside The Pint Public House (1575 Argyle Street).

According to Silverball's owner, Allison Amirault, the scene has become big enough and diverse enough that pinball cliques have begun to form. Older fans of vintage machines hit up the Sunnyside Mall Arcade (Sunnyside Mall, 1595 Bedford Highway), featuring classics from the '70s, '80s and '90s, whereas younger players make their way to the Pubcade, with newer offerings, from Iron Man to Game of Thrones to perennial favourite Jurassic Park. “Everyone loves Jurassic Park,” Amirault says.

“It’s pretty exciting to see games that are popular and new internationally, and have them here in Halifax,” says Hornbeck. (You can battle raptors at Propeller, too.)


As for Friday’s celebrations, “There will also be some surprises, but we can’t share them just now,” says Hornbeck. “It’s really just celebrating the space, because it’s been incredibly exciting to see how much people have loved it this past year, and how so many other spaces have opened. It’s amazing how people are into in this kind of fun.”

  • Pin It
    Favourite

Tags: , , , , ,

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

EDNA and jane's next door have sold to Andy's East Coast Kitchen

MasterChef finalist Andy Hay is one of the new owners, and EDNA founder Jenna Mooers is staying on to run the popular Gottingen Street restaurant.

Posted By on Wed, Jan 29, 2020 at 4:08 PM

EDNA and jane's owners new and old, from left: Alex Billingsley, Jane Wright, Jenna Mooers and Andy Hay (Heather Billingsley not pictured). - JESSICA EMIN
  • EDNA and jane's owners new and old, from left: Alex Billingsley, Jane Wright, Jenna Mooers and Andy Hay (Heather Billingsley not pictured).
  • Jessica Emin
  After seven years and thousands of brunch-time sweet & saltys, EDNA has been sold. Owner Jenna Mooers announced today the sale of the much-beloved Gottingen Street eatery and its building, as well as jane’s catering and events, the next-door catering business and storefront take-away owned by her mother, Jane Wright. But don’t fret—everything is staying exactly the same.

Andy Hay of The East Coast Kitchen, doing his thing during season five of MasterChef Canada. - VIA MASTERCHEF
  • Andy Hay of The East Coast Kitchen, doing his thing during season five of MasterChef Canada.
  • via MasterChef
The sale is to Alex and Heather Billingsley, founders of Toronto-based food-delivery service Mama Earth Organics, and Dartmouth chef Andy Hay, creator of Andy’s East Coast Kitchen and the second-place finisher in 2018’s season five of MasterChef Canada. “Alex and Heather moved to Halifax about a year ago,” says Mooers, “and very quickly fell in love wth EDNA and jane’s. They’ve been close friends with Andy Hay for a while now. My mom has been ready to take a step back into retirement, and for me at the seven-year mark, it seems like great timing for a change.”

As for the new owners, Mooers says that their love of the existing businesses, and their simpatico business and food philosophies, make the sale “kind of a perfect match.”So perfect, it turns out, that neither Hay nor the Billingsleys plan to change much. EDNA will remain open, retain all of its staff and even hold on to Mooers as general manager, as well as head chef Leah Coodin. jane’s next door, the storefront grab-and-go spot owned by Wright, will remain as well. And any changes to EDNA’s menu, says Mooers, are likely to be gradual. 

DANIEL DOMINIC
  • Daniel Dominic
"The food business isn't for the faint of heart," says Wright. "But I’ve had the best two years I've ever had in the last two years, and I feel like I’m leaving [the new owners] with a super team."

EDNA was instantly lauded after its opening in May 2013, making enRoute magazine's 2014 ranking of Canada’s 10 best new restaurants (as Wright's jane's on the common did in 2003), landing multiple times on Jacob Richler’s “Canada’s 100 Best” list and appearing frequently on The Coast’s own Best of Halifax Readers' Choice Awards. (And as our first-ever story about EDNA suggests, we were pretty stoked even before it opened.)

It was also at the front of a wave of new restaurants which have, in the past few years, turned Gottingen into one of the city’s go-to food destinations.

“I live just a block away on Maynard,” says Mooers, “and this community has always meant so much to me. The area has changed so much in just that short time we’ve been here, and it’s pretty amazing to have been part of it.”

Wright, for the time being, plans to take it easy.

"I’ve been working since I was 13, and I’m 61 now," she says. "So there had to come a time. The food business is very physical work." But, she makes a point of adding: "I'm hoping I may have another act in me."

  • Pin It
    Favourite

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Kicking the plastic habit


Why local businesses are re-embracing traditional and sustainable packaging

Posted By on Thu, Jan 23, 2020 at 4:00 AM

Lauren Marshall credits her Real Fake Meats staff for supporting the switch from plastic to paper packaging. - IAN SELIG
  • Lauren Marshall credits her Real Fake Meats staff for supporting the switch from plastic to paper packaging.
  • ian selig

  As a plant-based butchery, Gottingen Street's Real Fake Meats is far from a typical butcher shop. But if there's one tradition co-founder Lauren Marshall believes is worth preserving, it's wrapping her products in old-fashioned butcher-shop paper, not plastic.

It hasn't always been that way: when the shop opened one year ago this month, most of its products were vacuum-sealed in plastic, ready to grab-and-go. But all that hard-to-recycle single-use plastic never sat right with Marshall. "I had guilt knowing over the last year I could make this change, and it was just kind of weighing on me," she says. So, recently, Marshall started selling her plant-based products in more traditional, sustainable packaging.

On a recent Tuesday afternoon, with the umami smell of simmering seitan in the air, Marshall's team was busy scooping Mozza Balls, heaps of Sun Parma and thick globs of Cream Cheeze into glass bottles. Other employees were plating decadent logs of cranberry-rolled "Goatless" Cheeze alongside juicy slabs of veggie steak, fat veggie sausages and thin slices of veggie ham. These were all destined for the display case, to be weighed and wrapped up for customers, or tucked away into paper boxes first thing the following morning.

Real Fake Meats isn't the only new local business becoming more mindful of its contribution to the single-use plastics problem. Neighbouring restaurant, Springhouse, recently started offering a $0.30 discount for customers who bring their own containers. A few months ago, Luminate Wellness Market opened its doors in Bedford, offering plastic-free produce and a "refillery" bulk section, where customers can, and are encouraged to bring or buy reusable containers.

Finally, in 2018 The Tare Shop on Cornwallis Street became Atlantic Canada's first package-free grocer. "Over the last two to three years, we've seen new businesses crop up that are going completely plastic free," says Marla MacLeod, director of programs at the Ecology Action Centre. "In general, there is just more awareness of just how much plastic waste we create."

MacLeod says that recent changes in public policy will set the bar higher for those who have yet to catch up. Last October, the Nova Scotia Legislature adopted the Plastic Bags Reduction Act, a pending province-wide ban on some single-use plastic bags that is set to come into effect this October. There is also recognition of the plastics problem at the municipal level, with the city's Beyond 3 Rs Program, which launched late last year. That program seeks to highlight businesses doing their part to reduce their plastics footprint.

But reducing plastic creates new challenges. While Real Fake Meats' refrigerators are now largely free of plastic packaging, the to-go freezer is still packed with towers of vacuum-sealed products. Unfortunately, says Marshall, it "makes the product kind of better," sealing in moisture and flavour while protecting it from freezer burn, and extending its shelf life without added preservatives.

Marshall also admits to a bit of concern that making the customer's experience less convenient—such as waiting for an employee to wrap up a purchase rather than just grabbing and going—could lead to a dip in sales.

Regardless, Marshall is pleased with the change, and while she's glad to see plastic reduction becoming a priority of government, she says her real inspiration for cutting down plastic waste comes from her employees.

"We'll always have meetings and speak with our staff and ask them what they think," she says. When she mentioned making a change, and felt her staff was behind her, "That was where I felt the influence [the] most, from the people that I spend the most time with."

  • Pin It
    Favourite

Tags: , , , , , ,

Tough times in the retail woods

Halifax has lost five long-serving businesses in the last six months.

Posted By on Thu, Jan 23, 2020 at 1:00 AM

axe.jpg

  If Halifax's business scene is like a forest, it's a joy to see new saplings take root (for example, here's a look at what a batch of newbies are up to on the waste-reduction front). And there's an existential ache when a towering old-growth tree falls. Sure, some death is useful to foster life in an ecosystem, but the last six months have been particularly hard on longstanding retailers. Losing the following five giants so quickly means that in less than a year, the city loses centuries of combined business experience.

Dean's Flowers
Closed August 2019
After 100 years in business, the Stanley Street florist had really made its name. Made it so well that two other flower shops were using the term "Dean's Flowers" in their Google advertising. "So, if someone Googles me or my business, they are hijacked away," wrote Dean's owner Holly Winchester in a Facebook post just before the shutdown. "The Google guy said that I should do the same thing, and use their names and business names in my search words. That is not even remotely something that I would do."


Smith's Bakery & Cafe
Closed August 2019
Started in 1932, the city's oldest independent bakery was a purveyor of all forms of classic deliciousness, from lemon squares to pizza. It closed when its Agricola Street lease ran out. As co-owner Dennis Evans told The Coast: "We can't stay here and we don't have the money to move."


Camera Repair Centre
Closed December 2019
For nearly 50 years, this Hunter Street shop was the go-to place when you had any sort of problem with a telephoto lens, shutter trigger, film uptake sprockets, digital sensor—you know, camera stuff! Like that thing on your phone that takes pictures, only totally different.


Newfoundland Store
Closing January 31, 2020
There has been a grocery store at the corner of Willow and Clifton Streets since 1917, and about half that time it's been the Newfoundland Store. But that era is over now.


Sievert's Tobacco
Closing soon
Last August Craig Sievert broke the news that he would be shutting down his family business, which has been selling cigars and cigarettes and various non-combustible goods on Barrington Street since 1906. Deep discounts to clear out the merchandise began in November, and are ongoing according to the Sievert's Facebook page. The final day looms like an axe.

  • Pin It
    Favourite

Tags: , , ,

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Hot winter daze at SENSEA Nordic Spa

Get really, really really relaxed at the South Shore’s one-of-a-kind spa.

Posted By on Wed, Jan 8, 2020 at 1:54 PM

SENSEA Nordic Spa offers European-inspired spa services in a Nova Scotian lakefront setting. - SUBMITTED
  • SENSEA Nordic Spa offers European-inspired spa services in a Nova Scotian lakefront setting.
  • SUBMITTED

On a 26-acre parcel of land outside the Nova Scotia coastal village of Chester is a spa unlike any other in the province. Instead of minimalistic white rooms with high ceilings, scented candles and in-ground hot tubs, you'll find ice-cold waterfalls, Turkish hammams and cozy fireplaces.

"Offering a pause, a break in your busy life, that's really our intent," says Christophe Debeaumont, owner of SENSEA Nordic Spa.

Originally from France, Debeaumont and his wife, Laetitia Gomthier, moved to Canada five years ago. Avid spa-goers in Europe, the couple wanted to provide Canadians with a unique experience, drawing inspiration from spa cultures across Europe to create something original.

To that end, explains Debeaumont, the couple have embellished the basic Nordic spa concept with ideas from their travels to spas in Luxembourg, Germany, Finland and across Scandinavia. Key to the experience, he says, is being immersed in nature.

"We wanted to create a new, different concept of spa where everything is embedded inside deep nature," he explains. "It sounds crazy, but we offer for you to be literally in your swimsuit in the cold outside in the wintertime."

The Nordic spa experience has three steps, Debeaumont explains. First, spa-goers warm up in a sauna, hammam (steam room) or hot bath. Second, they cool down as quickly as possible.

"The brutal way to do it is to pour a bucket of water on you," says Debeaumont, though there are gentler options, including an onsite waterfall.

Debeaumont says the shock of the cold releases adrenaline and endorphins in the body, inducing a deeply relaxed state afterwards.

The final step, of course, is relaxation, and Debeaumont recommends doing the hot-cold-relax cycle three times to "sleep like a baby" at night.

To induce even deeper tranquility, SENSEA has a lounge with a fireplace, light reading and classic vinyl records, as well as snacks and wine to purchase.

A typical day at the spa costs $50 for basic access. Add-ons like therapeutic massage, and traditional Russian banya—a treatment that involves being whipped with eucalyptus branches—cost extra.

By this summer, Debeaumont also plans to offer outdoor massages and a chance for people to take the experience even further by sleeping in "dream cocoons" (a sort of treehouse) overnight.

SENSEA opened on January 1, with about 100 guests taking in the experience. Located about 45 minutes from downtown Halifax, Debeaumont says the drive to Chester is a great chance to get into nature.

"We just want to offer you a way to escape the city," he says, "and give a pause on your life."

  • Pin It
    Favourite

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Halifax street style: South Street

Scouring the streets for the city’s most fashionable.

Posted By on Thu, Nov 28, 2019 at 4:00 AM

CAROLINA ANDRADE
  • Carolina AndradE

Name: William Kim
Spotted: Corner of Tower Road and South Street
Wearing: Coat, Burberry; Sweater, H&M; Hat, Calvin Klein; Belt, Off White; Pants, Calvin Klein and Shoes, Raf Simons


What inspires your wardrobe? Japanese street fashion. I started showing interest in Japanese fashion culture after going to Tokyo and seeing all these different types of styles. From traditional Japanese dresses to futuristic styles, it is impossible not to acknowledge that Japanese people have an incredible sense of style. But, at the end of the day, I don't have a specific style; I like to wear what I want.

What is your favourite brand right now? I'm currently in love with Acne Studios. I love how their clothes look minimal with innovative designs.

What is your favourite piece of clothing in your closet right now? My Liful Minimal Garments hoodie. It's an oversized sherpa hoodie that's warm and cozy—perfect clothing for the fall-winter time.

Favourite local shops? Elsie's Used Clothing. I like how Elsie's has a variety of clothes—from formal clothes to street fashion—and it's not overly priced for good quality clothing.

  • Pin It
    Favourite

In Print This Week

Vol 28, No 2
October 15, 2020

Cover Gallery »


Real Time Web Analytics

© 2020 Coast Publishing Ltd.